Discovery Institute: I told you so!
A senior Roman Catholic cardinal seen as a champion of intelligent design against Darwin’s explanation of life has described the theory of evolution as “one of the very great works of intellectual history.”
Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said he could believe both in divine creation and in evolution because one was a question of religion and the other of science, two realms that complemented rather than contradicted each other.
Schoenborn’s view, presented in a lecture published by his office on Tuesday, tempered earlier statements that seemed to ally the Roman Catholic Church with U.S. conservatives campaigning against the teaching of evolution in public schools.
“Without a doubt, Darwin pulled off quite a feat with his main work and it remains one of the very great works of intellectual history,” Schoenborn declared in a lecture in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna on Sunday. “I see no problem combining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, under one condition — that the limits of a scientific theory are respected.”Particularly interesting is that Shönborn appears to be saying what most scientists have been saying all along: Science is limited to studying what is observable and measurable. If it can't be measured or somehow observed, science has little to say about it. Whether or not God exists is outside its purview, and evolutionary theory does not preclude the existence of a God. And he's right. Barring the appearance of God with a host of heavenly angels in an undeniable display of power that can't be explained by naturalistic phenomenon, science can never prove or disprove whether God exists.
Science studies what is observable, and scientists overstep the boundaries of their discipline when they conclude evolution proves there was no creator, said the cardinal, 60, a top Church doctrinal expert and close associate of Pope Benedict XVI.
“It is fully reasonable to assume some sense or design even if the scientific method demands restrictions that shut out this question,” said the cardinal.
So, to the Discovery Institute, Michael Behe, and all the other "intelligent design" creationism advocates who thought that Schönborn's statement would give you more respectability or that it suggested that you might be getting a powerful new ally in your never-ending fight to give your brand of religion-based pseudoscience the imprimatur of science and get it taught in public schools without having to do the actual heavy lifting of producing, oh, actual evidence to get scientists to take you seriously, I say:
I hate to say I told you so when I told you that his remarks meant little or nothing with regards to the official position of the Church regarding evolution or any impending change thereof, but I told you so. (Oh, who am I kidding? I love to tell you "I told you so.")
Cardinal Shönborn's position was never really a significant departure from long-standing Church doctrine with respect to the acceptance of the science of evolution as being compatible with Church teachings, as laid down by Pius XII fifty years ago and reinforced by John Paul II. As I said before:
As a Catholic myself (albeit the stereotypical lapsed one), I wouldn’t worry that much about this editorial if I were you. ID advocates are reading far more into than is probably there and crowing about it way more than is justified. The Catholic Church has, ever since Pius XII reconciled the Church with evolution 50 years ago, has always preached a sort of “theistic” evolution that’s not all that different from intelligent design.
In essence, the Catholic Church has generally taken the view that evolution and faith are not incompatible and that God used evolution as the process that would inevitably lead to the creation of plants, animals, and humans. It's usually left the science behind evolution to biologists and the teaching of science to those trained in biology. (Perhaps its encounter with Galileo finally taught it something, even if it took a few hundred years for the lesson to sink in.) Indeed, in Catholic high schools, you will find evolution taught as science in science classes and A.P. biology classes with nary a whisper about God or design (although certainly you will hear mentions of them them in catechism classes), and in pulpits you will occasionally hear a priest mention evolution. However, unless things have changed since I stopped going to Mass regularly, I've yet to see one mention a "designer's" influence on creation as anything other than a matter of faith and belief.